As the Clock Ticks…

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

While the death toll rises and famine and disease spread, President Bush is still taking his time to put a meaningful number of troops on the ground in Liberia. For weeks the President has promised to send in the troops as soon as Liberian warlord turned president, Charles Taylor resigns. Lucky for desperate Liberians, Taylor has said his tearful farewell and boarded a plane bound for exile. As Taylor waved goodbye he pledged to come back soon, a promise many Liberians hope he’ll break.

With two thousand US marines on board three ships off the coast, the moment is ripe for international assistance: Moses Blah has been appointed as interim president, fighting is minimal and people are starving. Rebels from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) are controlling access to UN food warehouses, and have expressed a willingness to give up rebel-held parts of Monrovia. International groups are pressuring Bush to send in the troops, but movement still isn’t forthcoming. On Wednesday the Pentagon made a new, adjusted promise that two hundred US troops would be deployed if rebels abandon Monrovia’s port. That means two hundred might make it ashore by today, since the LURD has signed an agreement promising to leave the capitol by Thursday at noon. Two hundred is better than none, they could offer great assistance to West African troops on the ground. But two hundred is still a small number in comparison to the thousands sitting just a few miles off shore.

Wedneday’s editorial in the Washington Post reminded the Bush administration of the need to assist Liberia now.

“The administration should quickly commit sufficient U.S. troops to assist the peacekeepers in securing the port area and delivering relief supplies to Liberia’s famished, sick and wounded.

The United States and leaders of the Economic Community of West African States who helped broker Mr. Taylor’s resignation must push hard on the diplomatic front. Every effort must be expended to maintain the truce between remnants of the Taylor regime and the rebel factions.”

Meanwhile the United Nations sent a whopping 11-person team into Monrovia to work towards distributing food and water to the city’s population. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees will also be flying new supplies into Monrovia to replenish UN foodstocks.

President Bush’s spokeswoman promised that the U.S. would work with ECOWAS to ensure that humanitarian aid reached the desperate people of Libera, but didn’t give any hard information about when or how. When asked whether the 2,000 Marines still on their boats were on standby for possible deployment, she dodged a specific answer. And when a reporter asked, “What does the administration say to the people in Monrovia who are saying, okay, Charles Taylor did what the President asked, he’s gone — where is the United States, why aren’t they here to help us?” she said:

    “We are working to ensure that humanitarian relief gets to those who need it. The people of Liberia have endured a great suffering and we will work with ECOWAS partners to help ensure that that humanitarian relief gets to the people.”

For the Liberians, sooner would be better than later, they need the diplomacy to get started and the international dilly-dallying to end.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend